Whether you’re an athlete or simply a woman who wants to increase her speed and agility, you’ll have to work hard to develop legs that are up to the task. Developing explosive leg power involves a variety of exercises including weight training, plyometrics and sprinting drills. But if power is what you’re after, then power is what you’ll get with the right training and a little work.
Getting explosive power in your legs requires some time in front of a weight rack. Stronger legs are able to respond with greater force when you need to dart out of the starting blocks, sprint down the basketball court or jump in front of a volleyball net. Incorporate squats, lunges, calf raises, quad extensions and hamstring curls into your training routine, while also spending a few minutes strengthening your hip flexors and glutes for a stable core.
Plyos are athletic drills that, according to Bodybuilding.com, encourage muscle development, speed agility, endurance and quickness. And according to Donald Chu, Ph.D, author of “Jumping into Plyometrics,” the reason plyos are so effective is because they teach the proprioceptors of your muscles and joints to push off the ground with greater force. That means if you want to explode with power you’ll definitely want to work plyos into your training. A few of the best plyo and agility drills include box jumps, vertical leaps, high-knees and quick-feet. To start out, do plyo sessions no more than twice a week with each session lasting between 15 and 20 minutes.
One of the best ways to increase your leg power is to do sprinting drills. Depending on your sport, you can tailor these drills to mimic actions you’ll perform in the game. If you’re a basketball player, try line drills such as 30-second drills and full-court up-backs. If you’re a track athlete, get a set of starting blocks and take yourself through a series of sprint workouts doing accelerations and full sprints. And if you’re not involved in a particular sport you can use whatever facilities you want -- the track, a football field or a basketball court; just make sure you’re demanding fast starts and high speeds from your legs.
Because training for explosive power demands so much from your legs, you have to give them time to recover. It’s during these down times that your muscles are actually benefitting from the work you’ve done. As you’re resting, they’re taking the torn fibers and rebuilding them to be stronger for the next time you work out. While it may be tempting to over-train and think that more is better, stick to a balanced workout schedule that includes no more than two plyo sessions per week and doesn’t involve lower-body lifting on consecutive days. Give your legs at least 48 hours to recover from your power workouts and always be willing to give it more time if it needs it. And as with any new workout routine, be sure to check with your doctor before beginning.
After graduating from the University of Kansas with a bachelor's degree in sports information, Jill Lee served for 10 years as a magazine editor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). Also a published author, Lee now works as a professional writer and editor focusing on fitness, sports and careers.